Lockdown leaves Kuchipudi gurus in the lurch

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At least 600 families of Kuchipudi dance teachers devoted to grooming the young talent are struggling to earn their livelihood owing to lockdown imposed to check the COVID-19.

The lockdown imposed in March has a telling impact on their lives in many ways. The dance schools remain shut and the students can not attend the home-run institutions of the independent dancer teachers.

A majority of the Kuchipudi dance teachers are from four districts in the State. Nearly 100 dance teachers are in Krishna district, excluding those belonging to Kuchipudi village, where the classical dance form flourished. More than 100 are in Guntur and East Godavari districts each. The Rayalaseema region has also a decent number of dance teachers, according to the Kuchipudi Art Academy (KAA) in Chennai.

Women are a considerable number among these dance teachers, who support their families from the earnings from the dance classes, besides pursuing higher studies.

‘Govt. should bail us out’

The State government terminated the services of around 200 dance teachers employed in government schools in December 2019, forcing them to earn their livelihood by running independent institutions.

“Hundreds of Kuchipudi dancers across the State are in an immediate need of aid to survive the lockdown. A majority of them are even struggling to manage their food. The State government must consider their plights and bail them out,” says Kuchipudi Art Academy (Chennai) Secretary Venkat Vempati.

Online campaign

People from the classical dance fraternity and other sources are providing essential commodities and financial support to the dance teachers, but it is far from the adequate, says Mr. Venkat.

Last week, a Hyderabad-based Kuchipudi dancer, Bhavana Pedaprolu, launched an online campaign by sharing the plights of the Kuchipudi dance teachers in the State.

“We have identified at least 600 dance teachers who are in need of food and aid. We are able to provide essential commodities to barely 200 teachers by Monday,” says Ms. Bhavana.

Vijayawada-based Bhagavatula Venkata Rama Sarma, a Kuchipudi dance teacher said that it’s time the government came to the rescue of the dance teachers.

“The dancers do not have an immediate alternative option to earn their livelihood. Since a majority of them do not wish to reveal their ordeals, their problems go unnoticed,” he says.

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